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11 Jun

On Sunday, I headed over to my friends’ house bright and early to do the T25 abs DVD.  It was…hard.  That’s about all I have to say about that!  Oh, and that yes I know it will get easier if I stick with it.  After we were done, they loaded up their bikes and we all headed downtown.

I don’t currently own a bike that has gears (or hand breaks), so in order to make the experience enjoyable for myself I decided to rent a bike.  Pittsburgh isn’t the most bike friendly city, but we sure are getting there.  Did you know that you can rent bikes downtown, right along the Great Allegheny Passage?

Golden-Triangle-Bike-Rentals-Downtown-Pittsburgh

They have hourly and day rates, which I found very affordable.  The hybrid that I rented was $8/hr or $24/day.  Since I am just an occasional biker, this option seemed reasonable to me.  We followed the GAP Trail all the way to Hot Metal Bridge and into South Side.

Biking

fluorescent cyclist alert!

Hot-Metal-Bridge-South-Side-Pittsburgh

We decided to make a pit stop for lunch and I insisted that we eat at Pita Pit so that I could have their falafel.

Lunch-Break

I am obsessed with the falafel on whole wheat pita.  I load mine up with spinach, onions, green peppers, cucumbers, feta, tzatziki, and hummus.  I saved half of it for dinner!

Falafel-Pita-Pit

Pita-Pit-Nutrition-Information

While we were stopped for lunch, it started to torrentially downpour.  Then, about 5 minutes after we were done eating, it just completely stopped.  We wiped off our bike seats and kept it moving!  We looped back towards downtown on the South Side (side?) of the river through Station Square and headed toward Smithfield Street Bridge.

GAP-South-Side-Station-Square

It was a fantastic little loop of the city and with lunch it only took us 1.5 hours. That meant a $14 bike rental tab for me, which I view as totally worth it.  I would’ve wanted to keep going but my friends had to scoot to a Pirates game at 1:30.

Bike-Ride-Map

Plus I took my first bike selfie!

awko taco

awko taco

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That Time I Peed Outside

14 Apr

I almost hate to type these words because I don’t want to jinx anything but…my Sunday long run was awesome!

I don’t know why I get myself all worked up and pscyh myself out, but I was a nervous wreck on Saturday.  I mean, 4.5 miles.  For me, that’s quite big jump from the steady 2-3 milers I’ve been logging lately.  I was nervous about everything – would the weather hold up, what should I wear so I am max comfortable, where should I go, blah blah blah.  When I left the house to open Changin’ Time, I put on my trusty old drawstring running capris that I trained in most of last spring.  By the time I left the laundromat, I was all ready uncomfortable (like I never want to wear them again) so I decided to run home and change into my long running tights.  I wasn’t interested in having any excuses to give up!

Then, I drove over to South Side to run on the riverfront trail.  I don’t usually run this trail, but it’s mostly flat and heavily populated on weekends so I thought it would be ideal. (Heavily populated is ideal because I’m less likely to take walking breaks if people can see me <- I’m pathetic.)  I was absolutely nauseous the whole way to the parking lot because I wanted so badly to have a good run and to actually prove to myself that I could do it.

You have to love South Side on Sunday mornings…

I censored her lady parts...you're welcome.

I censored her lady parts…you’re welcome.

For the first mile, I was feeling a bit deflated, too!  Sometimes it’s a struggle to get my body to move in sync right away, but I thought back to a convo I had with my future mother-in-law last spring when she was training for the Pittsburgh half.  She said something like, “I need the first few miles of my long run to warm up.  I always feel like I’m a mess for the first mile.”  At the time I remember thinking to myself:  Um…I basically only run a few miles at a time!  My entire run is her warm up!  I suck!   I’m so nice to myself, aren’t I?  I’m glad I remember that conversation, though, because it reminded me that it’s okay to struggle.  Just because the first mile or so isn’t working out, that doesn’t mean the whole run will.

I happened to be almost to the 10th Street Bridge when the skies just opened up and it started to POUR.  I mean really pour…

April-Showers-Running-1

I huddled under the bridge for less than 5 minutes and just as quickly as it started, the rain just completely stopped.  Conveniently, the top half of me was soaked just enough to cool me down but not make me uncomfortable.  I don’t know if my iPhone and Garmin would’ve survived if it wasn’t for that bridge!  I took the brief break to stretch out a bit and thank the lucky stars that I wasn’t feeling like this disturbingly amusing graffiti nearby:

Graffiti-SouthSide-Pittsburgh

A few miles down the trail, I knew I could absolutely not go another step if I didn’t take a bathroom break but….there was no civilized toilet in sight.  So, I finally made the runner’s right of passage and squatted in a bush.  You’ll be happy to know that I fought the urge to document the moment via Instagram.  It was my first time peeing in a bush on South Side sober.  Writing this down makes me realize the run was more successful than I initially realized!  It’s the little things…blow up dolls and urination benchmarks.

Anyway, I was really proud of how few walking breaks I needed and how consistent my pace was.  The rain did leave a humidity in the air and I was overheating BADLY on the way back – clearly the decision to wear long running tights backfired.  I need to invest in some warm weather running bottoms this week.  You know, after it’s done snowing on Wednesday.  I’m getting so excited for marathon weekend!  I’ve been logging more consistent miles, I’m feeling great, and I peed outside!  Woop Woop!  Happy Monday!

Service For The Soul

10 Apr

Each year, April brings quite a few things back into my life.  Things like rain and the promise of green things to follow, fresh air, BASEBALL, racing season, and tons of other stuff mostly having to do with being outside.  I prefer the transitional seasons, but spring is the most inspirational because the world is starting to wake up.  Things are starting to peek out of the soil.  Green leaves and small buds are starting to appear on bushes and trees.  The sun remembers that it can provide heat and not just light.  To me, April is like taking a big deep breath of fresh air for the first time in months.

Spring-Flowers-Phipps

As I stared at my calender the other day, I realized that there is one thing significantly lacking from my life:  service.  I’ve volunteered for as long as I can remember: candy striping in high school and even more in college, where I was involved in about a dozen organizations.  It was an easy way to find spiritual and emotional gratification, probably because it was so accessible.  On a college campus, organizations basically recruit free labor every day so I rarely had to look far for a great cause.  Since graduating from school, my priorities have shifted.  Now, much of my expended energy is self-serving.  All day is focused on myself, my home, my relationship, my business, me, me, me.

Yesterday, I registered to volunteer with REI in South Side for Earth Day and that got me thinking all the other non-profits in the ‘burgh.  After a few clicks, I was able to sign up for a few other service days with different organizations.  I’m excited to network and meet some eco- and community-minded people while making my city a better place AND I’m excited to report back to you guys!

If you are planning ahead for some family-friendly Earth Day celebrations in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend checking out:

Earth Day 2014 w/ Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy & Frick Environmental Center

Wild Earth Day @ Pgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


How do you celebrate Earth Day?

If you’d like me to promote your Earth Day activity, just shoot me a comment!

Woop! Woop!

14 Jan

Sound the alarm!

I woke up at 5:30.  In the morning.  Which still felt like the night.  Got dressed, got in my car, and met up with a friend to run.  Oh and did I mention it was raining?  I found it to be hugely gratifying.  After all this cold weather/rain/snow/freezing rain/hail nonsense I’ve been dealing with, I finally feel like a legit runner.  We did 2 easy miles at a slow walk/jog pace – can’t scare my new running buddy off!

photo(3)

Not long after snapping this beaut, a homeless man happened across our path on his way to use the bathroom in the woods.  Pretty much it was a good morning to be running with a buddy.  I ran the last half mile with some extra pep in my step, let’s just say that.

Also, I rather easily talked my friend into doing the Brave American 5K with me in the beginning of March.  I think this will be her first 5K, and I plan on using it as the test 5K in Hal Higdon’s Intermediate  5K Program.

Cold-Weather-Running-Nike

Sunday Runday

13 Jan

I was dealing with some serious internal conflict on Saturday night about what distance I should run on Sunday.  First world problems all up in here.  Earlier that day, I had decided that my 2014 inaugural race should be the Ole 5K again.  I plan to train harder than I did last year as I think I’m a bit more advanced this time around as the beginner program seems too easy now.  So, Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 5K Training Plan it is!  The problem is the first week’s scheduled long run is 5 miles.  I’ve peaked at 3.5…

I was hesitant on Sunday because I had been on the treadmill all of last week.  I had serious doubts about 2 miles.  But, if I want to build up to 5 miles before training begins then I have to jump up to 3.  There was really no point in putting it off, so I knew I had to swallow my fear of failure and just try as hard as I could.  I took a water break after 2 miles at the car, then pushed onward into Frick Park. #blueslidepark

Frick-Park-Pittsburgh

And guess what?  I friggin’ did it!  I’m not putting any pressure on myself about it.  For the next 27 days I will see how far I get with base building and go from there.  With a little practice and a lot of persistence, I just know I can beat my previous time for the Ole 5K.

I went home and rested for a few hours, hydrated, and watched some extra greasy reality TV.  A few hours later, Liberty and I hit the road to meet up with some of our friends.

Riverfront-Park-South-Side-Pittsburgh

Actually the dogs had never met before, so they weren’t friends before the walk.  Katie was my roommate in college for a few years and is one of the only people I am still in touch with.

Dog-Walking-Pittsburgh

It was really fun! We discovered some homeless people camps and also a dog park, which was super muddy.  Just the way Liberty likes it.

South-Side-Dog-Park

This trail is part of the Great Allegheny Passage, which I’ve written about before.  If we had kept going, it would eventually connect with the trail that I run down at the Waterfront.  Pretty neat!  Since we were walking with absolutely no concern about speed or distance, I was able to give my muscles a nice cool down.  I am going to stretch out like crazy tonight after work and hopefully get 2 in in the morning!

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